Industry IoT Consortium Publishes the Digital Twin Core Conceptual Models and Services Technical Report

Digital Twins form the core technology to Industry 4.0, Industrial Metaverse, and Digital Transformation. (Did I hit all the hype hot buttons there?) All joking aside, digital twins—making digital designs available across platforms—are important. The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) has published this month the Digital Twin Core Conceptual Models and Services Technical Report.

The report guides technical decision-makers, system engineers, software architects, and modelers about connecting the foundational IT infrastructure with industry-specific business applications powered by digital twins in industrial settings.

The report describes digital twin fundamental concepts and basic requirements, core conceptual models and services, enabling architectures and technologies, and supported business applications. It provides high-level technical considerations in implementing the digital twin core layer, aligned to the Virtual Representation section of the Digital Twin Consortium (DTC) Platform Stack Architectural Framework: An Introductory Guide. The IIC report also includes a survey of relevant standards and can be used as input for standards development for digital twins.

The Industry IoT Consortium is a program of the Object Management Group (OMG). 

Bosch Rexroth Ecosystem Continues Expansion

I’ve written a few times about Bosch Rexroth’s new OS and platform ctrlX. Most recently here. Just realizing that I have another post in queue to expand on the potentials of the OS. The company and its technology are attracting a number of partners. This is interesting. Will the market follow?

The vision of an automation world in which competitors become partners and users help to shape the solutions is becoming reality. The operating system ctrlX OS with its ecosystem has won over even more collaborators: In addition to WAGO, the first company to join the group, Dell Technologies, Nokia and others have joined too. As a result, the solution is now established on all levels of the automation pyramid. The partner network ctrlX World is growing too and now offers even more variety. At the moment, partner companies cover more than 150 use cases. KUKA, another leading robot brand, recently joined the group.

“Automation needs to move away from proprietary systems towards open, modular and scalable microservices architectures that will enable a profound transformation of industry in terms of digitalization, connectivity and sustainability. ctrlX OS is the enabler for this,” said Steffen Winkler, Vice President Sales Business Unit Automation & Electrification Solutions at Bosch Rexroth.

With ctrlX OS, Bosch Rexroth has developed an operating system with digital services. It is a core part of the ecosystem initiated by ctrlX AUTOMATION. The entire sector has access to it, even competitors. The aim of Bosch Rexroth and the partner companies is to create an open industry standard for the market.

Bosch Rexroth has opened up the operating system ctrlX OS for the entire market. It entered into its first system and technology partnership with WAGO. “We offer ctrlX OS on our own devices and develop specific applications on the basis of the operating system. WAGO is about to launch the Edge Controller 400 and the Edge Computer with ctrlX OS to coincide with the SPS trade fair. Together, we’d like to strengthen ctrlX OS and develop it further,” said Johannes Pfeffer, Vice President Business Unit Automation at WAGO.

Because it can be used flexibly on various levels, ctrlX OS is of interest not only for industrial control systems and edge industry PCs. As a virtualized solution, the operating system also runs on edge servers in close proximity to machines and production lines, in data centers and in the cloud.

Dell Technologies and Bosch Rexroth are working together to integrate ctrlX OS as an out-of-the-box software module for Dell NativeEdge, an edge operations software platform that simplifies edge operations and provides zero-touch implementation and zero-trust functions.

The solution offers companies support for applications and services needed to ensure smooth system operation – across sectors, in cloud environments and at sites spread across the world. To reduce time to production, Bosch Rexroth and Dell are helping customers to quickly configure, deploy and scale ctrlX OS in their environments with Dell Validated Designs for Edge.

Nokia is integrating the virtualized operating system ctrlX OS into its Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) on-premises operational technology (OT) edge solution. Various applications run on this and it has private wireless 5G campus network technology. Through this integration, Nokia MXIE customers can install ctrlX OS as an application at the click of a mouse and thus operate their business-critical use cases with reduced latency.

KUKA, a leading robot brand, has now joined the group. As a result, there is now a KUKA connection and integration based on the KUKA.PLC mxAutomation interface. This is used by the company Mairotec in its “MAIRobot” app and in an exhibit which will be shown at the Rexroth stand (booth 450 in hall 7) at SPS 2023.

Schneider Electric Appoints Heather Cykoski as Senior Vice President of Industrial Automation, U.S.A. & Process Automation, Canada 

I seldom report these appointment to new position releases, and most of you are not going to interact with a senior vice president. Schneider Electric news about automation especially mentioning Foxboro is pretty rare. I thought it worth mentioning that the company lured Heather Cykoski from a competitor to return to where she began (The Foxboro Co.) to assume leadership of automation in North America.

Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, today announced the appointment of Heather Cykoski as Senior Vice President, Industrial Automation, U.S.A. & Process Automation, Canada. 

She is tasked with:

Cykoski is focusing on accelerating growth of Industrial Automation, inclusive of discrete, hybrid, and process manufacturing, in the United States and Canada. She will also work closely with local and global stakeholders – including AVEVA, partners and customers – to address the industry’s green energy trilemma of balancing modernization plans, managing security concerns, and working within limited resources.

“Automation is a cornerstone of the manufacturing sector’s growth and a critical element to Schneider Electric’s continued success,” said Aamir Paul, President, North America Operations. “Heather’s extensive experience with customers and technology, as well as her passion for sustainability, provide a unique insight to guide her in furthering our Industrial Automation group’s impact across North America.” 

“I’m excited to join a group that is deepening customer relationships and ensuring that we continue to meet and exceed their evolving needs across multiple segments,” said Cykoski. “Whether building new operations or modernizing brownfield facilities, we have the opportunity to help customers increase operational reliability, reduce energy usage, and make strides towards sustainability goals – all at the same time.” 

In addition to her professional experience, Cykoski serves on the Board of Directors of Fluitron and the World of Affairs Council, is a member of Advancing Women Executives and the Global Women’s Forum for Economy & Society, and is a strong advocate for women in STEM. She has been recognized for her leadership with numerous honors, including, the Gamechangers Progress Champion Award and WeQual Americas Leadership Excellence Award, as well as being named to the 10 Most Influential Women in Technology in 2020. 

SICK and Endress+Hauser Want To Join Forces in Process Automation

We are experiencing increasing partnerships as companies strive to provide more comprehensive solutions to customers. This partnership news concerns German sensor company SICK and Swiss measurement and automation technology specialist Endress+Hauser. Both companies are aiming for a strategic partnership for SICK’s process automation business segment and have signed a joint memorandum of understanding. 

The goal of the partnership is to expand the Endress+Hauser product portfolio with process analysis and gas flow measurement engineering from SICK. The two companies intend to establish a joint venture for the production and further development of SICK process technology. The sales and service teams of SICK’s process automation business segment will become part of Endress+Hauser’s global sales network. In total, this segment currently employs more than 1,400 people in 28 countries and generates more than 350 million euros in sales annually.

The process technology offerings from both companies complement each other. The process analysis and gas flow measurement engineering from SICK – for emissions monitoring in flue gas cleaning processes or for gas flow measurements, for example – are employed particularly in waste incineration facilities, at power, steel and cement plants, in the oil & gas industry, in chemical and petrochemical production and in the marine sector. In the past, the companies have frequently worked together on an order, project and customer basis. 

Both shareholder families, as well as the respective supervisory bodies of SICK and Endress+Hauser, are backing the planned strategic partnership. Using the memorandum of understanding as a foundation, experts from both companies are now conducting due diligence to determine how the collaboration can be accomplished and brought to fruition. The contract is expected to be signed before the end of the first quarter of 2024, while closing of the transaction is scheduled for the middle of next year.

Two News Items Regarding CyberSecurity from Rockwell Automation

Automation Fair was this week. I expected many news releases. I’ve already reported on the one published. I checked out the “show daily” email from my friend Keith at Endeavor Media whose team reported on the presentations a series of executives made to the attending media. Not so much news as it was a survey of the breadth of Rockwell’s offering. 

I think that was the theme—don’t think of Rockwell Automation from the point-of-view of controls and drives. Check all the acquisitions from Plex for cloud-based MES, FiiX for cloud-based CMMS, Verve for Cybersecurity, plus material handling and more. Looking at financials, the traditional industrial control product business still is the greatest contributor. Software and control is still next, but services are catching up to it.

These releases concern cybersecurity and partnerships with Dragos and Claroty.

Rockwell Automation will provide ICS/OT Cybersecurity Threat Detection Services, leveraging the Dragos Platform to help Industrial Manufacturers Secure their Environments

Dragos Inc. announced the expansion of its combined capabilities in partnership with Rockwell Automation. With this expansion, Rockwell will be making the Dragos Platform available to organizations for enhanced ICS/OT cybersecurity threat detection, providing global deployment services and support capabilities to help customers operationalize their security investment. 

The threat detection capabilities build on the previous global agreement between Dragos and Rockwell for the OT Incident Response Retainer (IRR) program that helps industrial organizations prepare for, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents in OT environments. 

  • Improved threat detection and response across the entire industrial OT network. 
  • Greatly enhanced visibility into the OT environment allowing industrial organizations to inventory and monitor assets, track vulnerabilities, and leverage network monitoring to investigate issues and incidents. 
  • Fast, efficient, and effective threat detection to help maintain safety and uptime as a result of continuously updated knowledge packs focused on ICS networks for Rockwell-specific and third-party vendor hardware. 
  • The collective experience and intelligence of Dragos and Rockwell to enhance knowledge for industrial defenders, including whitepapers, webinars, and other resources.
  • Rapid operationalization of cybersecurity investment with the global deployment and support footprint at Rockwell Automation. 

Claroty and Rockwell Automation Expand Capabilities to Include SaaS-powered OT Security Solution xDome

Claroty announced an expansion of its capabilities with Rockwell Automation, Inc. with the addition of SaaS-powered industrial cybersecurity platform Claroty xDome to Rockwell Automation’s global services portfolio. Additionally, Rockwell Automation customers now have access to Claroty’s complete suite of cloud-based and on-premise OT security offerings. 

Claroty xDome provides comprehensive security coverage, integrated interoperability, and deep bidirectional technology alliances. The partnership expansion highlights Rockwell’s pioneering stance in OT security by offering a cloud-hosted OT security solution to its customers. This step positions Rockwell on the vanguard of enabling secure digital transformation, underpinning the company’s dedication to innovation and security. 

Keynotes from Automation Fair by Rockwell Automation

I listened to the keynote speeches from Automation Fair this morning while working out. A different perspective from a darkened room at a narrow table with 5,000 (or more) of my closest friends.  I’ve listened to maybe 1,000 of these over the past 25 years in media. There are just a few things I’m really listening for. What is the market buzz of the year? What aspects of the company are they promoting? Hopefully, but rarely, a new company direction?

Usually nothing startling comes out. Never a Steve Jobs, “And just one more thing…”

CEO Blake Moret laid a general outline of the growth of Rockwell Automation as it serves the customers’ needs for digital transformation. He chatted with Judson Althoff of Microsoft about their partnership over the years. They worried me talking about industrial metaverse, which is so 2022, but then moved the conversation to the Microsoft Co-Pilot and how the companies are working together to exploit generative AI for industrial usage. Looks like initially Rockwell will incorporate it in its control design software.

I like words and word play, and I couldn’t let this one pass. Vintage (pun) Microsoft. When everyone else uses their own technology to develop new technology, they call it “eating their own dog food.” Not Microsoft. They “drink their own champagne.” 🙂

Interesting side note—I’ve been asking about new engineers entering the field preferring to use tools they’ve learned such as Python and NodeRED. Moret didn’t address that precisely, but he did note that relay ladder logic may not be the programming tool of choice for these new engineers and that generative AI may bridge the gap from modern to archaic (my words, not his).

Sr. VP of Intelligent Devices Tessa Myers was given the task of introducing featured products. These included:

  • Automated and autonomous material handling vehicles
  • Digital twin and AI technology for maintenance of a process system
  • Cybersecurity featuring new developments with acquisitions and partnerships

I’ve diligently returned to the Rockwell Press site for more news, but nothing else forthcoming right now.

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